IMG_0733It was a beautiful Memorial Day in New York, and I was getting down to the dregs of the bowl where I throw the leftover beans from my coffee experiments. It was starting to taste a little too much like the bitter Starbucks mistake from quite a while back. I took a bike ride down to my favorite indie coffee shop, Café Grumpy, using the newish Ninth Avenue lane, encountering just one illegally parked delivery truck that forced me to divert awkwardly into the street. On the way back, up the older Sixth Avenue lane, it was a nightmare of hazards -- cabs veering into the lane to get fares, jaywalkers, wrong-way cyclists and bladers, and, incredibly, a row of half a dozen police squad cars parked neatly in the lane in Herald Square. The N.Y.P.D. does what it pleases.

I'll note that 21st Street also has a great bike lane, except on Grumpy's block, where the police personal vehicles are parked at a slant. There's also a lack of good places to lock a bike. But I managed. There was quite a selection of beans waiting for me, including a big supply of Intelligentsia's delicious Micay Finca Santuario, but the white bag of this guest espresso from Barismo caught my eye. Name: Soma espresso

Origin: A blend: 75% Guatemala Finca Cardenas, 10% Guatemela Nimac Kapeh, 15% Kenya Kiandu.

Roasted: May 20 by Barismo of Arlington, Ma.

Purchased: May 25 at Café Grumpy, 224 W. 20th St., Manhattan, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.

Description: According to Barismo's site: "Syrupy body and silky mature fruits. Thick and complex yet balanced. An espresso that exemplifies the character of its components but melds in harmony. From a light cask conditioned wine note to a syrupy body with a dash of mellow cocoa."

In the cup: My coffee quest was derailed in recent weeks by a variety of things -- work obligations, mainly, and no time to pick up some quality beans.

I've enjoyed every coffee I've had from Barismo, and this was no exception. When I got home and finished showering, I made a fresh shot of this (I had bought another coffee, but stuck that in storage for now). I should note that I did not replicate the precise instructions on the bag: "Pull 19 grams in a double basket for 26 to 28 seconds at 198 degrees Fahrenheit totaling 1.25 ounces." Basically, a smaller volume shot and a high temperature. I used my lazy Barista method, which is dictated by the lazy automated Jura machine that I own. It does the job, but I could be accused of "noodling around" in a manner that compromises quality for convenience. Guilty as charged.

The shot had a foamy creme -- almost like a head on beer. It was definitely syrupy and silky, and I'll have to take a rain check. I couldn't pick them up. Not that I cared much. Barismo's blog says there should be "deep red flecking and a heavy mouth feel." I didn't really see the flecking, but it was definitely a heavy espresso, which I like. It was a good espresso, and the components do blend together nicely. I made a second shot and definitely picked up the wine note and mellow cocoa. Barismo selections tend to grow on me as I drink them, and I think this one will follow the same pattern.

It certainly erased my irritation with some of the cycling obstacles on the trip down to Chelsea.

This was a good ending for a beautiful sunny weekend of cycling solo and with my daughter and some romping about with friends. As I was writing the date above, I was reminded that this was my mother's birthday. It had somehow slipped by me. I guess it was fitting to mark it with two of my favorite rituals, a ride through the city and shots of espresso from her native state of Massachusetts (born and raised in North Cambridge). Rest in peace, Catherine Gallagher LaForge, May 25, 1924 to March 26, 1985.

AuthorPatrick LaForge